Fraser is home for the holidays on the Island of Nin near to Skye. He is helping a scientist called Ben McCaig document the arrival of various whale populations not normally seen in the area. Ben McCaig cannot work out why the various whale pods are appearing in the seas around Nin.
Fraser thinks that the holidays on Nin will be boring, but then he meets a disaffected American teenager called Hayley. Suddenly the island is engulfed in mystery. First the body of a whale is washed up and then the body of a man. Who is this man, where did he come from and what happened to him?
After this, Fraser finds a stranger in one of the caves on the beach who desperately needs his help. Together, Fraser and Hayley attempt to help this stranger. He is in danger from the men who brought him there. There is someone on the island working with these men. Someone in the community is not what they seem. But who is it? Fraser and Hayley need to find out who is pursuing their new friend. Fraser is also worried about his younger brother, Dunny. Dunny is an elective mute who seems to be communicating with the whales. He also appears to be involved in the mystery. What do all his shell messages mean, does he know about the stranger, and what is his relationship to the whales in the sea around Nin?
This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking story set on a wild and isolated Scottish island. It is both an adventure story and a mystery, but it also contains important themes such as people trafficking, illegal immigration and the relationship of the community to the environment. There are beautiful and evocative descriptions of the landscape, and the characters are very much brought to life through their realistic relationships. The Sound of Whales is the well-deserved winner of the 2014 Times/Children’s Fiction Competition.